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Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

Posted by olivesmom (My Page) on
Sun, Feb 10, 13 at 17:12

*just to warn you, this is really long*

We've recently found a new house that we like quite a bit, and compared to the last house we were looking at, it is totally problem free. Newer construction, really pretty. I'm just not sure if we should put an offer in or not. Part of it is nerves I'm sure, the other part apprehension over that fact that it's not "the perfect house".

We currently own a home that is fine, but we would like something nicer, larger and with more privacy.

This home is 4,000 sq ft (double our current house) and is on 1/3 of an acre (our current lot is something like 4,500 sq ft- really tiny). The outside is nicely done, all hardie shingle and stone and has a side load garage which isn't very common here. There are only about four homes surrounding it in view, as compared to the 20+ at our current place (we have 12 houses that back up to our tiny backyard alone).

The inside is pretty nice too. Extensive reclaimed wood trim, beams, paneling. Wood floors with a slate inlay. Nice stone fireplaces and even stone work on the staircase.

One thing I LOVE is the kitchen in terms of it NOT being totally open to the living/ dining space. Of all the new(er) contruction homes I have viewed in the past 5+ years I am not sure I have come across one that did not have an open kitchen. They seem to be the standard nowadays.

There is an office with French doors off the family room which we would use a a playroom for now. Upstairs the master is quite large, has a very spacious bathroom and then up a half flight of stairs is a sitting room which we might utilize as a home office space. There are two other bedrooms upstairs connected by a jack and Jill bath (which I like). The laundry room is also upstairs.

The house has a walkout basement and I look forward to having such a space for my husband to play his video games and otherwise be a "man cave". I cannot wait to have a spot to send my husband to play his dumb games....cannot wait!

The downsides:

While the lot is 1/3 of an acre the actual yard seems small. There really isn't a true backyard as the property to the rear is a ravine I think. There is a side yard (which could be expanded with more lawn perhaps) and a tiny front yard.

The garage is side loading, but the driveway into it is a little tight. Will require a 2-3 pt turn. Also, the garage is only a two car garage. Small I think for a 4,00 sq ft home. However, there is additional uncovered parking by the basement entry.

There is no mudroom and if I recall correctly there may not even be a coat closet. I have always wanted a mudroom, especially with kids.

While I like the kitchen layout in terms of not being totally exposed, the actual appliance layout isn't the best. The appliances are low end too, frigidaire everything. I've always wanted painted cabinets, subwaytile and a farmhouse sink. The kitchen has none of those, but the cabinets are nice as is the granite and slate backsplash.

I dislike the fact that the guest/ first floor bathroom is a full bathroom. I prefer just a powder room for guests. I suppose though, this does allow the study to function as a bedroom if the need arose.

I find it odd that there are only a total of three bedrooms in this 4,000 sq ft house. Especially since one of the secondary bedrooms is small. We could put a bedroom with bath in the basement, but at an added cost of course plus it would limit the size of the game room.

The master bath is spacious and I like the layout, but the plumbing fixtures are pretty basic as I recall. The shower has nice tile but then just a cheap vinyl shower pan.

In terms of the neighborhood it is in an area that has a mix of older little homes and newer custom ones. This house shares a private drive with the house dirrectly across and that house is fine, but as you drive down the street to get to the house you pass one or two smaller homes that have junky front yards and cars everywhere. One of the side neighbors has a few cars/ boat parked right next to the property line and they are in view. This could be remedied with a fence or plantings though.

We currently live in a HOA neighborhood and while it can be annoying at time I do appreciate the fact that all of the surrounding homes are kept up. Also, I like that we have sidewalks in our current neighborhood. Not that I can really walk anywhere other than around the neighborhood but it is nice for the kids. This new area does not have sidewalks. Cannot really walk anywhere either. At least though, the private driveways is a nice big space for my kids to ride their bikes and such on. Our current (tiny) driveway is too steep for bike riding (so steep my almost two year old can barely walk down it without falling).

So this house we are looking at is not my dream home, it is pretty close and a big improvement over our current home. I enjoy browsing through real estate listing and I have yet to see an existing home I like as much as this one, even when looking at homes that cost twice as much. We could always build the perfect house,but I'm not sure I'm up for all the work a custom build entails. It would also be two-five years before we could start building and I'm sure it would cost much more than this house we are looking at.

We don't have to move right now. Our current home is okay, just not great. If we do move I'd like it to be before my daughter starts school in two years, and then I do not want to move again for 20+ years.

I'm not sure what to do. I really like this house, but there are a few nagging feelings about the things it lacks. I know there are a million other homes out there and down the road there will still be another million, it's just that none off them appeal to me. There's not one other listing that I am interested in right now. There's no rush, but we would like to make a decision so we can move forward one way or another.

Any advice is most welcome! I'll post photos in the next post. Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

I really like the exterior

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As you can see the driveway into the garage is tight. The garage door is nice though.
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This is the walkout basement entry.
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Small side yard. The bark surrounding the lawn is on a slope. Maybe raised beds could be placed there?
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The deck isn't anything great. If we were to buy this house we would likely put a larger deck in down the road.
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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

Could you list the pros and cons?
Are there other homes in the area similar to this?
That is a large home for 3 bedrooms but is the price low enough you could remodel?
You said you share a driveway--how does that effect kids playing outside in the driveway--and maintance and people driving by your home to get to the other home. Is this the same neighborhood you live in now --schools, shopping, etc?
Are there other houses for sale so you could look at either open houses, with a RA (but DO NOT sign any paper as to get stuck with one agent--pet pieve of mine) I would say that maybe look around a bit more--
Good luck


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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

Interior

These listing photos were taken a while ago. Everything is finished now.

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Not pictured is another entrance into the kitchen. There is an open doorway near the wall oven. There is now a basic frigidaire side by side (I hate side by sides) refrigerator. The cabinets need a light rail installed still, but the wires aren't hanging down any more. The missing toe kick has been installed.
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The pantry is a decent size (small walk in) and has nice shelving.
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Main floor bath, now complete
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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

Master, very large
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Master bath
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There are two closets not pictured. One large walk in and another smaller walk in.

This is the sitting room which is actually off the bathroom. Kind of weird I have it off the bathroom like that, no doorway to the room either. I would also prefer to have the fireplace in the actual bedroom.
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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

Marie:

There are other custom homes nearby but they either have larger lots and are quite a bit more expensive, or they have the bigger lot but are older. We do not want to do any remodeling, so even just slightly dated kitchens are a turn-off at this point.

The private drive way is only shared by this house and one other one. There is a matinence agreement in writing. I would feel safe with the kids playing on the drive way.


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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

No, there is no perfect home. Even if you build, there are ALWAYS compromises.

For this house, I'm not a big fan of laminate counters in the bath or the plastic tub surround. The sitting room layout is just plain weird. There are no window treatments because most of the windows will be difficult to actually place the hardware to do so. The architecture is offputting. It's a strange mix of Tudor and Craftsman details and Neo-Ecclectic bones. The yard will require a lot of fill in order to have any yard--and that may be prohibited as it affects the runoff to the rest of your neighbors. With the slope that you have, I'd be worried about erosion next to the driveway.

Those are mostly nit-picking details that wouldn't greatly affect you living a nice life in the home. There is a dealbreaker though. The godawful kitchen layout would rule it out completely unless I had the money to do a complete redo right now. All of the room is in the wrong spot and everyone will be walking through it all the time to get to the fridge. The most used space in any kitchen is between the sink and cooking zone. That's practically non existent. If the cabinets could be re-arranged to put the fridge at the opposite end of the run and the cooktop on the other side, and flip the DW to the other side of the sink then that might be a possibility. Since it's fairly new, you might be able to match up the needed parts and pieces that it would take to redo the kitchen.


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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

It's an unusual combo of high and low end details, like the builder ran out of money. But it looks like he started with a decent budget.

I think I would keep looking. But keep it in mind. If everyone else also thinks it's too weird to buy, it might become a good enough deal that you won't feel like you're settling.

My parents live in a similar-looking/sounding WA neighborhood. Be sure the guys with the cars parked all over don't have room to ride their ATVs in the backyard. They are noisy.

You have kid(s). No backyard? Nah.

Keep looking.

(I don't really mind the kitchen THAT much.)


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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

Holly-

The main floor vanity counter is a tile I think, not laminate. It is edged in wood which makes it look like a laminate. I dnt know why they just didnt do a piece of granite or something, its a odd choice for sure. I don't mind the vinyl tub surround. I know many here dislike them, but I dislike cleaning grout so I'll take vinyl tub surround. Especially since it will be covered with a shower curtain anyway.

I knew some would take issue with the Tudor + craftsman, but I think I like it. Maybe as an architecture pursuit you find it offputting, but I don't think most other people would find it so. I'd be curious to see if anyone else here thinks it is bad. I know it's basically standard new build neo-ecclectic and the Tudor/craftsman touches work I think.

I do agree that the kitchen is a problem. Not sure how big of one. There is another entry way into the kitchen almost directly across from the refridgerator, so you doesn't have to walk through the entire kitchen to gain acess to the fridge. There's no way we will remodel the kitchen. I have to decide if I can live with it as is.

As far as the yard. I'm not sure which you are referring to. The front lawn has been put in. I think it is pictured in the first exterior photo, but not the other ones. The other side lawn could be expanded a little I think, but then it slopes up too much.


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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

I did not read most of the post. But I like the looks of the house.
I have been an agent for 11 years, and I do not think I have had a single buyer that found a house that offered every single item that they needed AND wanted.
Sometimes it helps to make a list of the items that you NEED and those that you WANT. It may help you recognize the home that best gets what you NEED.


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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

The yard would be the showstopper for me - the sloping yard with mulch to make it look pretty. What's left when the mulch gets washed away? And is that gravel on the side? It looks like the mulch next to the house is already drifting onto the gravel.

It is a pretty house, but it seems so stylish that I wonder whether it isn't going to look dated in a few years.

And how do you access the top front gutters over the front gables? You can't put a ladder up there. The roof is too steep to stand on.


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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

Honestly, seeing the pictures and reading this statement of yours, "So this house we are looking at is not my dream home, it is pretty close and a big improvement over our current home. I enjoy browsing through real estate listing and I have yet to see an existing home I like as much as this one, even when looking at homes that cost twice as much." You're the person most familiar with what's available in your price range. If you like it, and the main things that you want are there, then I'd go for it. For what it's worth, I think it's beautiful inside and out -- lots of great details that you don't usually find in new construction. But it's what *you* think that matters -- if you love it, go for it.

P.S. I read the kitchen thread, too, and think the major kitchen problem could be remedied by adding a prep sink to the opposite run. It seems any number of the lower cabinets over there would accommodate a prep sink addition, and an opening for the sink could be cut into the countertop on site. With a basement underneath to get the plumbing over to it, I just don't think it'd be that big of a deal -- maybe $1000 - $1500, I'd guess -- no new cabinets required.

This post was edited by kris_ma on Mon, Feb 11, 13 at 13:19


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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

I would be concerned about heating the place. It seems kind of "cave-like" in some rooms; it may not be the best use of 4000 sq.ft. that is for sure. It is very pretty in some ways, probably not my style. Do your other family members like it alot?


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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

I'd have to agree with hollysprings on this one. Unless you plan to do very little cooking, that kitchen will make you crazy. It is very, very similar to the kitchen in a house I rented for two years, and it was a huge PITA to work in. I'm not sure that adding a prep sink would help, but this layout demands a left-door fridge and I'd bet that size box is for a french door fridge - poor drop zone! (You can post the kitchen pictures on the Kitchens forum and get other feedback on this)
Also, the garage will eventually become a PITA if you decide you are going to use it every day.
So the layout sacrifices space in two bedrooms for additional part-time rooms? (study, sitting, whatever is past those glass french doors, and whatever that is by the front door with the striped couch, and no foyer or mudroom?).
My SIL had a home with lots of square footage, but the layout was so weird that they couldn't wait to move. Lots of wasted open space.
I think it's a lovely home and the finishing is beautiful, but the layout inside, and the grounds outside, would not work for me at all.
For you, depends on how you live...do you cook or eat out? Do you use your garage for cars or storage? Will you regret not having a usable yard for kids, dogs, relaxing?


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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

Only having 3 bedrooms will make resale difficult. That master sitting room would have been perfect as a 4th bedroom or bonus room, if only they had taken the time to design a better floorplan.


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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

So I went back to the house today, didn't have my agent with me so I wasn't able to go inside. I did have the opportunity to walk around the property a bit more.

I need to see a property map, or have a survey, but it seems like the property line goes back a little further than I though and there's a little more land before the slope down to the ravine in the back. Right now the area is overgrown with blackberry bushes and it's is hard to see. Not like it makes a big difference, but I think I'm okay with the amount of yard for my kids.

In my dream world we'd have multiple acres with a huge grassy lawn. However, the reality is that mowing the lawn is a major chore for my husband despite the fact that our current yard is about the size of a table top.

There are several big cedar trees, a few large hemlocks? and then the woodsy area to the rear of the house, plus the side lawn. I think that is plenty of nature for my kids to explore. There's also the private drive which will be nice for their trikes and ride-ons.

I also had the chance to drive around and the area is a mix. There are quite a few smaller, older homes built in the 30's-40's, some kept up nicely and others not so nicely. There are also many newer homes, some nicer than the one we are looking at. This home is not the nicest, but one of them I'd say.

As far as the three bedrooms, I do wish that instead of the master sitting room there was an additional bedroom, but that's a moot point. I think technically it could be considered a four bedroom house as the study does have a closet and is adjacent to a full bath. It just has glass French doors. We could also put in a bedroom in the basement, or just put a sleeper sofa in the game room down there. Even if we have more kids I'd probably just have them share a room. I do want a guest space though.

We are going to see the house again with our agent this week and I will do some more measuring and look more carefully. Last time we had our two little kids with us so I don't think I was as thorough as I should have been.


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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

The fact that the builder did not take the veneer stone all the way down to below grade bugs me. Most HOAs do not even allow exposed, unfinished foundations. Is the builder going to install a concrete drive? That would really add a nice touch. As far as the garage goes, either both cars are going to have to park inside or outside. If there is a car inside trying to back out and the other car is in the drive, there looks like there would not be enough room to do so.


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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

NCrealestateguy: I agree about the stone, luckily landscaping would be an easy fix I think.

If we end up purchasing this house I think we might do a brick driveway (to match the front walkway) on the side of the house by the walkout basement entry since it would be both a patio and additional parking space.

I didn't think about the fact that both cars would have to be in the garage, or both out. With the kids outdoor toys and general lawn care items we would need one side for storage. Will have to consider building a shed or expanding the driveway, there is some space by the garage to do so.


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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

Ahhh, the question to end all questions. I am househunting as well, and have asked myself the same question many times, so I don't know that I have the best answer for you. Plus you factor in the differences in opinion between the family members and that makes it even more complicated. It is different for every person out there that is house hunting based on their needs. Here is one thing that helped me a bit when my mom pointed it out based on something that I said about one particular house....think of how you live and your day to day activities. Now think of doing all that in that house. How does it work? Are you struggling to find a place to put your coat and shoes without a coat closet? Is that important to you? Are your kids bikes in the way of backing out your car when want to navigate that tight driveway? When you wake up in the morning, do you want to have a quiet place away to drink your coffee and check your email like that loft? Or will that just be wasted space that you feel that you have to furnish and wont ever use? If you want to have children, what happens with the 3 bedroom thing? What if your teen kids don't want to share? Just sit back and imagine yourself living there.

Reality is, some things will drive some people crazy, when it is embraced by somebody else. The house hunt is obviously filled with give and take, but what matters the most is what works for you.


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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

I think you are trying to convince yourself to buy this house. You have already stated you would like to replace the deck and change the driveway. The kitchen seems to be an obstacle also. This is a brand new home not a fixer upper.

Maybe you should do a rough work up of the costs you anticipate changing and you might find it not be the bargain you think it is.

Although there is no perfect house you seem to be finding more issues that are raising red flags.

At first glance though it is a beautiful house.


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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

Hold out for your acres of lawn. Wives can mow, too!


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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

It is a pretty house, but so poorly planned. There is so much wasted space with a loft you will rarely use and that entry area too. The kitchen would be a deal killer for me. I moved to get away from a kitchen like that when I had small children. I wanted a kitchen that would allow me to see the family room at all times. Every time there were tears or a ruckus, I had to turn off the stove so nothing would burn and then head out to take care of whatever it was that needed my attention. Never again.

This is only a three bedroom house, and that is a problem too. I wonder if they are counting the basement as part of the square footage. The run down homes in the neighborhood will also affect property values and quality of neighborhood life.

Keep looking.


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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

We have passed on it. Looks like we are staying where we are at for now. we are having a contractor do some work on our current home, so at least the interor will be more appealing for now.

The kid bedrooms are just too small and there weren't enough. We need more than a two car garage and I'd like a larger lot. None of those things could be fixed. I did like the house, but it would have been a mistake.

There's just nothing on the market I like. Even if we go up to one million + , nada. Seems like everything looks like a generic builder style or is a "unique" custom home with many eye rolling "features".

We will probably build, just the more I research it the more of a hassle it appears. The county I live in is a major PITA and I don't know how well I can tolerate dealing with them, plus all of the other headaches. We will see, thanks for the advice!


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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

I have to say, I'm a bit relieved. I think you were over-settling because you have needs that were just not going to ever be met. While kids will eventually leave the house (we all hope), the other needs will probably remain.

The inventory here is very, very low, as well - there is just nothing to choose from, although I know there are places that meet my needs. I'm assuming that those places do exist, but they are not on the market right now, for whatever reason - many of which have been addressed on other threads on this forum (winter, financing, etc).

If you find an area you like, with homes you like (that are more likely to meet your needs - you should be able to tell from the street whether it has a 3CG+), but none are for sale, you might even try the door-to-door or letter-writing campaign.


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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

I thought it was a very pretty house and blends in with the PNW style, assuming that is where it is. But It is totally different than your desires for painted cabinets, subway tile and a farmhouse sink.
Are you only looking at new homes?
I know what you mean about all homes with living, dining, kitchen in one space. Maybe including older homes in the search would help.


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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

Pretty much new homes or newer. We don't want to do any remodelling. I have seen some older (built in the 70's-80's) that are nice, but they would require new windows, trim, floors, baths and kitchens. I'm just not up for a remodel. I would rather build, which is probably what we will end up doing in a few years unless the perfect house pops up.


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RE: Settling too much or does the perfect house not exist?

Define "perfect house."

Now ask five other people for their definition.

They are pretty unlikely to match.

Put your list aside.
Come back in two weeks.
Make another list (do not refer to the first list).

It will likely be different.

Even if you build it, in a few months you will likely find something you want to change.


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